Thoughts, information and reflections about technology

Using Google Lighthouse / PageSpeed Insights to benchmark your sites.

Page speed is a very important ranking factor for Google. 

 

Google places a lot of importance on the speed of your website when considering ranking. The first step in improving page speed it so gather data as to the current speed of the site. 

You should probably gather data points from different times of the day so you have decent metrics. 

One tool to do this is PageSpeed Insights. Simply go to https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ and enter the URL of your home page (including https:// or http://) If you are using the latter, you are already incurring a penalty as Google penalizes non https sites. 

It will take a couple of minutes to analyze your site. You will then see a number from 1 to 100. The higher the better. 

In this case, 51 means that it can use a lot of optimization. 

Once you get a good idea of the page speed rankings, then it is time to start optimizing the site. 

You will need to look at an optimization plugin to optimize your JavaScript and css as well as the html. You will also need to optimize your images.  Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a single tool that will optimize everything. 

Once your JavaScript is optimized, the next step is to look at optimizing your images. This can really help reduce page load times. 

The first section shows a color coded synopsis of your site. Keep in mind that your site may seem a lot faster to you than it will to your users. Your browser and machine have most likely cached the content. 

The next section shows opportunities for improvement. Unfortunately the first section “Reduce Server Response Time” is a little vague as to how to improve this metric. “Upgrade your server” might not be a viable option for most people.

However, “Eliminate render-blocking resources” is something that you can probably address. There are a number of WordPress plugins that can help.

“Serve images in next-gen formats” is another step that you can take. In this example, we would shave off a little over one second of load time. The site shown in this example is not image intensive so the next-gen format optimization would not have a very dramatic effect. However, when you are trying to build traffic, every little bit will help.

SUMMARY – Speeding up the load times of a site is critical to your user experience and search engine standing. The first step is to benchmark your site so you have a baseline for it’s performance.

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